Athletes have disputed Rep. Madison Cawthorn’s claims he was training for the Paralympics, calling them a ‘joke’ and saying ‘it’s like a kid saying they want to play in the NBA when they’re on their fourth-grade basketball team’.
Cawthorn, who was paralyzed from the waist down in a 2014 car crash, previously said in social media posts he was training to compete in the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games.
In one February 2019 Instagram video, the congressman said the ‘world record’s going down’ in the 2020 Games as he trained on a wheelchair treadmill.
Five months later, in a July 2019 video he announced the ‘bad news’ that he would no longer ‘be able to compete in the Olympics’ after learning that wheelchair racing was worsening his existing back injury.
In a May 2020 podcast he also said: ‘I had an opportunity for the Paralympics for track and field.’
But named Paralympic stars have cast doubt on these claims saying they had never met him, that some of the events he spoke about don’t even exist in the athletic calendar and that his claims are regarded as a ‘joke’ among the Paralympic community.
Cawthorn’s name is also not included in the International Paralympic Committee’s list of athletes – a register of around 4,000 names that people must first be on to be able to compete.
The North Carolina Republican has faced accusations of exaggerating his career credentials in the past, after a watchdog reported he was rejected from the Naval Academy prior to the accident that left him wheelchair bound.
It comes amid calls for Cawthorn to be resign and face investigation by the House Office of Congressional Ethics over his part in the January 6 MAGA mob riot on the US Capitol that left five dead, after he spoke at the Trump rally moments before the violent insurrection.
Athletes have disputed Rep. Madison Cawthorn’s claims he was training for the Paralympics, calling them a ‘joke’ and saying ‘it’s like a kid saying they want to play in the NBA when they’re on their fourth-grade basketball team’
Amanda McGrory, a three-time US Paralympian wheelchair athlete who has won seven medals in track and field, told The Nation she was left puzzled asking ‘who is this guy’ when she saw an Instagram video where Cawthorn said he was aiming to beat the world record for the 100-meter dash in the Tokyo Games.
In the February 2019 post, Cawthorn shares footage of himself on a wheelchair treadmill alongside a caption reading: ‘Haunted by ambition. Ruthlessly pursuing this world record.’
Cawthorn says that he is ‘still a couple seconds too slow’ to beat the world record for the 100-meter dash of 13.76 seconds.
‘Thirteen point seven six. To most of you it’s just a number. But for me, it’s all I can think about,’ he tells the camera.
‘Thirteen point seven six seconds is the world record for the 100-meter dash. So in Tokyo, August 2020, that world record’s going down.’
McGrory said she saw the video at the time and thought it was ‘really weird’.
‘Who is this guy? Why does he think he’s going to break world records?’ she told The Nation.
‘This is really weird. I don’t think he has any idea what he’s talking about.’
Cawthorn, who was paralyzed from the waist down in a 2014 car crash, previously claimed on social media he was training to compete in the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games. In a February 2019 post (above), Cawthorn said he was ‘pursuing this world record’
In the same post, Cawthorn referenced going to the ‘US Open’ in June – something McGrory said does not exist.
McGrory likened him claiming he was training for the 2020 Olympics to ‘a kid saying they want to play in the NBA when they’re on their fourth-grade basketball team.’
She said all Paralympians must be internationally classified by the IPC to be able to compete and the names of those who have been are documented in its registry of athletes.
‘You have to be on it to even compete internationally,’ McGrory said.
Cawthorn’s name is not on the 2020 database of registered athletes that is publicly available online.
McGrory, who is also the archivist and collections curator for the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee, also said the process for qualifying for the Paralympics is long and complex.
‘You have to be involved in a team, usually your college or a local club,’ she said.
‘And then from there, you establish times at qualifying races, and then from there you get scouted.’
Named Paralympic stars have cast doubt on these claims saying they had never met him and some of the events he spoke about don’t exist in the athletic world. Amanda McGrory, a three-time US Paralympian wheelchair athlete (pictured), likened his claims to ‘a kid saying they want to play in the NBA’
Two-time Paralympian Brian Siemann said Cawthorn’s Instagram posts about his alleged Paralympic participation are a joke among the athletic community
Cawthorn briefly attended Patrick Henry College which doesn’t have a disabled sports program, The Nation reported.
Brian Siemann, a two-times US Paralympian for track and field in the London and Rio Games, told The Nation Cawthorn’s Instagram posts about his alleged Paralympic participation was a joke among the athletic community.
‘[My teammates and I] would share whatever posts [Cawthorn] put up and be like, ‘Look at what batsh** thing he said about the Paralympics this week,” he said.
‘The claims he was making were just so absurd, you have to find some humor in it.’
Siemann said he ‘never want[s] to make someone feel like it’s impossible’ but both he and McGrory said some of Cawthorn’s alleged training efforts do not even exist in the world of athletics.
In a May 2019 post, Cawthorn used the hashtag ‘qualifiers’ but the two Paralympians said there were no qualifying meets that year.
Meanwhile, another former elite wheelchair marathoner Robert Kozarek said the Paralympic community is so small that Cawthorn would be known by others if he was competing.
In a July 2019 video he announced the ‘bad news’ that he would no longer ‘be able to compete in the Olympics’ after learning that wheelchair racing was worsening his existing back injury (above)
In another post he also talks about the move to no longer take part. Cawthorn’s name is not on the 2020 database of registered athletes that is publicly available online
‘The community itself is small. There’s probably 50 [elite wheelchair racers] in the entire country, and we see each other four, five, six times a year, at least,’ he told The Nation.
Cawthorn’s office did not immediately return DailyMail.com’s request for comment.
But a spokesperson for the lawmaker told the Washington Times he had trained for the 400 meters for the Tokyo Games but was forced to pull out due to a back injury.
‘Rep. Cawthorn trained for the 400 meters with the goal of competing in the Tokyo Olympics,’ said Micah Bock.
‘Due to a back muscle injury, he was unable to continue pursuing that dream.
‘Rep. Cawthorn’s journey from car crash to Congress was not an easy one, and his desire to compete in the Tokyo Olympics further underscores the passion Congressman Cawthorn has always possessed to represent his country.’
Cawthorn has been accused of misleading Americans about his accomplishments in the past.
On his campaign website, he says he was nominated to the US Naval Academy by Mark Meadows in 2014 but that his plans were derailed by the car crash.
In a May 2019 post, Cawthorn used the hashtag ‘qualifiers’ but the two Paralympians McGrory (left) and Siemann (right) said there were no qualifying meets that year
But in a 2017 deposition, he admitted his application for the Naval Academy had been rejected before the crash.
Cawthorn is also facing calls to resign following the insurrection on the US Capitol.
The North Carolina lawmaker took to the stage of Trump’s rally on January 6 and pushed unfounded claims the election had been stolen from MAGA supporters.
‘My friends, the Democrats with all the fraud that they have done in this election, the Republicans hiding and not fighting, they are trying to silence your voice,’ he said.
‘Make no mistake about it, they do not want you to be heard, but my friends when I look into this crowd I can confidently say this crowd has the voice of lions.’
This came one month after a speech in December where he encouraged Trump supporters to ‘lightly threaten’ members of Congress.
‘And feel free, you can lightly threaten them, and say, “You know what? If you don’t start supporting election integrity, I’m coming after you, Madison Cawthorn is coming after you. Everybody’s is coming after you,”‘ he said.
Government watchdog group Campaign for Accountability filed a complaint this week asking the House Office of Congressional Ethics to investigate Cawthorn along with fellow Republican Reps. Andy Biggs and Paul Gosar and for them to be removed from their roles.
It accuses them of inciting the riot as part of ‘a seditious conspiracy to use force to prevent Congress from carrying out its constitutional and statutory duties to count the votes of the Electoral College.’
Cawthorn is also facing calls to resign following the insurrection on the US Capitol. The North Carolina lawmaker took to the stage of Trump’s rally on January 6 and pushed unfounded claims the election had been stolen from MAGA supporters (above)
Cawthorn was a vocal supporter of Trump’s unfounded claims of widespread election fraud – claims that were debunked in the courts and by Trump’s own administration.
When lawmakers returned to the Capitol after the riot to certify the election, Cawthorn voted to uphold objections to Arizona and Pennsylvania’s votes.
Five people died in the storming of the Capitol including a Capitol cop who was struck over the head with a fire extinguisher by a rioter.
Cawthorn, 25, became the youngest member of Congress in November after he defeated Democratic rival Moe Davis for North Carolina’s 11th Congressional District seat.
This came after his surprise win over Trump’s nominee Lynda Bennett in the primaries.
In his campaign he often spoke about overcoming personal challenges after being wheelchair-bound following the 2014 car crash that almost killed him.